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Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

International News Sampler

  • For the third year running, New York City is hosting the Festival Neue Literatur, which selects a group of rising young authors from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, bringing them to Manhattan to meet local audiences for a weekend of bilingual conversations and readings. This year, from February 10-12, Francisco Goldman (author of Say Her Name, a fictionalized memoir of his late wife Aura) and Chris Adrian (author of The Great Night and The Children’s Hospital) will join Larissa Boehning, Monica Cantieni, Catalin Dorian Florescu, Inka Parei, Linda Stift, and Erwin Uhrmann, in exploring themes like “Reinventing the Past,” and “Writing on the Margins: Literature Between Cultures.”
  • The Taipei International Book Exhibition, which ran from February 1-6, drew representatives from over sixty countries for its twentieth anniversary. Growing from its roots as a professional exhibition, the fair has developed into a massive event with over 700 publishers participating in more than 500 events and exhibitions. Although ebooks have been slow in gaining a Taiwanese foothold, the Taiwan government recently funded the establishment of the Taiwan Digital Publishers Forum, which in turn launched www.1000ebooks.tw, a cloud-based presentation of a select group of digital titles.
  • French president Nicolas Sarkozy‘s second crisis-budget plan included raising the VAT on books from 5.5% to 7%. In response, French booksellers are up in arms, threatening a “labeling” strike in which they will refuse to stick new price tags on books.
  • According to this article in Publishing Perspectives, each publishing market has a limit on the number of foreign-language books that can be translated and sold in print domestically. In Japan, the figure is around 8% of annual book sales, and seeing as the Japanese print market is in decline, it’s more crucial than ever for foreign rights departments of publishing houses to understand why a strong-selling domestic title falls flat in Japan. Interestingly, much of it has to do with the inner organization of Japanese bookstores (by publisher rather than author. Say what?) and the resulting lack of book discoverability.
  • Are we teetering on the brink—or meniscus, as it were—of a self-publishing bubble? Writer Ewan Morrison of the Guardian explains why he thinks so, in this fascinating article. It’s lengthy but very much worth the read.
  • Warscapes is a new, international online magazine about conflict, which according to this article in Publishing Perspectives, “treats the subject elegantly by publishing stories that underline the personal, the intimate and the introspective.”

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